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  • LPI Announces Publication of Space Science Series Volume
    The early development of life a fundamental question for humankind requires the presence of a suitable planetary climate Our understanding of how habitable planets come to be begins with the worlds closest to home Venus Earth and Mars differ only modestly in their mass and distance from the Sun yet their current climates could scarcely be more divergent Only Earth has abundant liquid water Venus has a runaway greenhouse and evidence for life supporting conditions on Mars points to a bygone era In addition an Earth like hydrologic cycle has been revealed in a surprising place Saturn s cloud covered satellite Titan has liquid hydrocarbon rain lakes and river networks Deducing the initial conditions for these diverse worlds and unraveling how and why they diverged to their current climates is a challenge at the forefront of planetary science Comparative Climatology of the Terrestrial Planets edited by Stephen J Mackwell Amy A Simon Miller Jerald W Harder and Mark A Bullock with 69 contributing authors sets forth the foundations for this emerging new science and brings the reader to the forefront of our current understanding of atmospheric formation and climate evolution Particular emphasis is given to surface atmosphere interactions evolving stellar flux mantle processes photochemistry and interactions with the interplanetary environment all of which influence the climatology of terrestrial planets From this cornerstone both current professionals and most especially new students are brought to the threshold enabling the next generation of new advances in our own solar system and beyond Other Space Science Series books produced by the Press in collaboration with the LPI include Origin of the Earth and Moon Asteroids III Comets II Meteorites and the Early Solar System II Protostars and Planets V The Solar System Beyond Neptune Europa and Exoplanets The LPI is a research institute that

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/books/climatology/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Graduate Students Eligible for the LPI Career Development Award
    LPSC in March Awards will be based on a review of the application materials by a panel of lunar and planetary scientists The application deadline for the LPI Career Development Award is January 10 2014 Applications must include Letter outlining why the applicant would like to participate at the LPSC and what he or she will contribute to the conference Letter of recommendation from his or her research advisor Copy

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/cda_award/121313/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Clay-Like Minerals Found on Icy Crust of Europa
    Europa he said Many scientists believe Europa is the best location in our solar system to find existing life It has a subsurface ocean in contact with rock an icy surface that mixes with the ocean below salts on the surface that create an energy gradient and a source of heat the flexing that occurs as it gets stretched and squeezed by Jupiter s gravity Those conditions were likely in place shortly after Europa first coalesced in our solar system Scientists have also long thought there must be organic materials at Europa too although they have yet to detect them directly One theory is that organic material could have arrived by comet or asteroid impacts and this new finding supports that idea Shirley and colleagues funded by a NASA Outer Planets Research grant were able to see the clay type minerals called phyllosilicates in near infrared images from Galileo taken in 1998 Those images are low resolution by today s standards and Shirley s group is applying a new technique for pulling a stronger signal for these materials out of the noisy picture The phyllosilicates appear in a broken ring about 25 miles 40 kilometers wide which is about 75 miles 120 kilometers away from the center of a 20 mile diameter 30 kilometers central crater site The leading explanation for this pattern is the splash back of material ejected when a comet or asteroid hits the surface at an angle of 45 or more from the vertical direction A shallow angle would allow some of the space rock s original material to fall back to the surface A more head on collision would likely have vaporized it or driven that space rock s materials below the surface It is hard to see how phyllosilicates from Europa s interior could

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/europa/121313/ (2016-02-15)
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  • India’s Mars Orbiter Mission Successfully Leaves Earth Orbit
    mission that it hopes will demonstrate and advance technologies for space travel The 1350 kilogram 3000 pound orbiter Mangalyaan which means Mars craft in Hindi must travel 780 million kilometers 485 million miles over 300 days to reach an orbit around Mars next September If the mission is successful India will become only the fourth space program to visit the Red Planet after the Soviet Union the United States and Europe Some have questioned the 72 million price tag for a country of 1 2 billion people still dealing with widespread hunger and poverty But the government defended the Mars mission and its 1 billion space program in general by noting its importance in providing high tech jobs for scientists and engineers and practical applications in solving problems on Earth Decades of space research have allowed India to develop satellite communications and remote sensing technologies that are helping to solve everyday problems at home from forecasting where fish can be caught by fishermen to predicting storms and floods One of the primary objectives of the first Indian mission to Mars is to develop the technologies required for design planning management and operations of an interplanetary mission In addition the orbiter

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/ISRO/ (2016-02-15)
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  • China Launches Probe and Rover to Moon
    countries to have previously successfully soft landed on the Moon Chang e 3 comprising a lander and a Moon rover called Yutu Jade Rabbit presents a modern scientific version of an ancient Chinese myth that a lady called Chang e after swallowing magic pills took her pet Yutu to fly toward the Moon where she became a goddess and has been living there with the white rabbit ever since Scheduled tasks for the Moon rover include surveying the Moon s geological structure and surface substances while looking for natural resources A telescope will be set up on the Moon to observe the plasmasphere over Earth and survey the Moon surface using radar The lunar probe mission is of great scientific and economic significance said Sun Zezhou chief designer of the lunar probe The mission has contributed to the development of a number of space technologies and some of them can be applied in civilian sector he said Chang e 3 is part of the second phase of China s lunar program which includes orbiting landing and returning to Earth It follows the success of the Chang e 1 and Chang e 2 missions in 2007 and 2010 After orbiting for 494 days and intentionally crashing onto the lunar surface Chang e 1 sent back 1 37 terabytes of data producing China s first complete Moon picture Launched on October 1 2010 Chang e 2 verified some crucial technologies for Chang e 3 and reconnoitered the landing area It also made the world s first lunar holographic image with a resolution of 7 meters Chang e 2 is currently more than 60 million kilometers away from Earth and has become China s first manmade asteroid It is heading for deep space and is expected to travel as far as 300 million

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/chang_e/120413/ (2016-02-15)
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  • LPI Announces Shoemaker Impact Cratering Award Recipient
    crater impact melts The Eugene M Shoemaker Impact Cratering Award is designed to support undergraduate and graduate students of any nationality working in any country in the disciplines of geology geophysics geochemistry astronomy or biology Grants support the study of impact cratering processes on Earth and other bodies in the solar system including asteroids and comets that produce impacts and the geological chemical or biological results of impact cratering This

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/shoemaker_award/2013/ (2016-02-15)
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  • NASA Cassini Spacecraft Provides New View of Saturn and Earth
    Wave at Saturn campaign where on July 19 people for the first time had advance notice that a spacecraft was taking their picture from planetary distances NASA invited the public to celebrate by finding Saturn in their part of the sky waving at the ringed planet and sharing pictures over the Internet An annotated version of the Saturn system mosaic labels points of interest Earth is a bright blue dot to the lower right of Saturn Venus is a bright dot to Saturn s upper left Mars also appears as a faint red dot above and to the left of Venus Seven saturnian moons are visible including Enceladus on the left side of the image Zooming into the image reveals the moon and the icy plume emanating from its south pole supplying fine powder sized icy particles that make up the E ring The E ring shines like a halo around Saturn and the inner rings Because it is so tenuous it is best seen with light shining from behind it when the tiny particles are outlined with light because of the phenomenon of diffraction Scientists who focus on Saturn s rings look for patterns in optical bonanzas like these They use computers to dramatically increase the contrast of the images and change the color balance for example to see evidence for material tracing out the full orbits of the tiny moons Anthe and Methone for the first time This mosaic provides a remarkable amount of high quality data on Saturn s diffuse rings revealing all sorts of intriguing structures we are currently trying to understand said Matt Hedman a Cassini participating scientist at the University of Idaho in Moscow The E ring in particular shows patterns that likely reflect disturbances from such diverse sources as sunlight and Enceladus gravity

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/cassini/112713/ (2016-02-15)
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  • NASA Launches Mission to Study Upper Atmosphere of Mars
    10 month interplanetary cruise before arriving at Mars next September MAVEN joins our orbiters and rovers already at Mars to explore yet another facet of the Red Planet and prepare for human missions there by the 2030s said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden This mission is part of an integrated and strategic exploration program that is uncovering the mysteries of the solar system and enabling us to reach farther destinations In the four weeks following launch MAVEN will power on and check out each of its eight instruments Upon arrival at Mars in September the spacecraft will execute an orbit insertion maneuver firing six thrusters that will allow it to be captured by Mars orbit In the following five weeks MAVEN will establish itself in an orbit where it can conduct science operations deploy science appendages and commission all instruments before starting its one Earth year scientific primary mission After 10 years of developing the mission concept and then the hardware it s incredibly exciting to see MAVEN on its way said Bruce Jakosky principal investigator at the University of Colorado Boulder s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics CU LASP in Boulder Colorado But the real excitement will come in

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/maven/ (2016-02-15)
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